Daily Kickoff

Trump likes Turkey | Behind Buttigieg’s tweet on Israel | White House sends out Hanukkah invites

Evan Vucci

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a news conference in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, in Washington.

Good Thursday morning!
This morning, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick announced his presidential campaign in a video posted Thursday morning. Patrick is expected to make a formal appearance in New Hampshire on Friday. 

Tom Friedmanpoints to the two recent Israeli elections to explain why he likes Mike Bloomberg joining the Democratic primary.

Tonight in New York, HIAS is holding its first awards dinner, honoring Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Regina Spektor and the Jones Day law firm.

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ON THE HILL —Public impeachment hearings kick off

n Wednesday, Donald Trump became the third president in American history to become the subject of an impeachment hearing. 

Inside the room: The first hearing took place in a crowded, cavernous hearing room in the Longworth Office Building next to the Capitol, with testimony from George Kent, a senior State Department official, and Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine.

New witness: Taylor testified that one of his aides overheard a phone call between Trump and Ambassador Gordon Sondland, one of the key figures in the backchannel to Ukraine, in which Trump asked about “the investigations.” The aide, David Holmes, is scheduled to give a deposition in a closed-door hearing on Friday.

On Deck: On Friday, congressional investigators will hear from Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was unceremoniously recalled by Trump in May. 

INSIDE THE OVAL — Trump lavishes Erdogan with praise at White House

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received a warm welcome from President Donald Trump at the White House yesterday. Trump said he was a “big fan” of Erdogan and said their meeting was “wonderful” and “productive.”  

Daylight? Despite the friendly tone, neither leader offered specifics on overcoming the major disagreements between the countries in recent weeks, including Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system and its incursion into northern Syria. Trump claimed yesterday that Erdogan has a “great relationship” with the Kurds, and appeared to side with the Turkish president over criticism from French President Emmanuel Macron. 

Media matters: During the White House press conference Wednesday, Trump urged Erdogan to call on “a friendly person from Turkey, please. Friendly. Only friendly reporters — we like to see. There aren’t too many of them around.” Trump himself called on One America News Network (OAN) and Fox News.

How It Played:The New York Times editorial board said the meeting yesterday showcased Trump courting yet “another tyrant” and his “weakness for ruthless authoritarians.” The Hillcalled the meeting “chummy,” while Haaretzcastigated “Trump’s total capitulation” to Erdogan.

Congressional meet: Trump invited five Republican senators — Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Jim Risch (R-ID), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Rick Scott (R-FL) to an unusual sit-down with Erdogan to discuss U.S. concerns over Turkey’s recent military actions.  Graham said the meeting “was frank, candid, and I hope, over time, will prove to be productive.” Axiosreports that the meeting “took a dark turn” when Erdogan took out an iPad and played for the senators a propaganda video that portrayed the Kurds as terrorists. 

A reversal: Following the meeting, Graham blocked a resolution that would have recognized the Armenian genocide, saying that the legislative body shouldn’t “sugarcoat history or try to rewrite it.”

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ)called the meeting “a mistake, plain and simple,” during a speech on the Senate floor yesterday. Menendez listed 10 questions he hoped Trump would ask Erdogan. Among them: “Will President Trump call out Turkey’s relationship with Hamas, the Palestinian organization that continues to terrorize Israel on a daily basis?

SPEAKING OUT — 2020 hopefuls express support for Israel amid rocket barrage

A fragile ceasefire deal was reached in the early hours of Thursday between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, capping off 48 hours of intensive fighting. As rockets rained down on Israel, most 2020 Democratic candidates expressed support for Israel, while others remained silent.  

Quiet skies? Israel said Thursday that it “achieved its objectives” in the operation, while PIJ said it succeeded in getting Israel to agree to halt targeted killings of its operatives. While several rockets were fired after the ceasefire went into effect Thursday morning, the skies were quiet as the day continued — though schools remained closed in many communities near Gaza. More than 400 rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza during the escalation, and 34 Palestinians were killed in Israeli airstrikes — at least 25 of whom were active terrorist operatives.

Right to defend: On Wednesday, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) joined former Vice President Joe Biden in denouncing rocket attacks from Gaza and reaffirming their support for Israel’s right to defend itself. 

A spokesperson for Buttigieg tells JI: “The security of our ally Israel is essential and Pete felt it was important to condemn the indiscriminate firing of rockets and targeting of civilians. All Israelis and Palestinians should have the freedom to go about their daily lives without fear. Pete knows the only viable way forward to achieve peace is a two-state solution that achieves Palestinian aspirations and meets Israel’s security needs.”

Not their issue: The remaining candidates, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), did not issue a statement on this week’s escalation, but have taken to social media to address a range of other issues.

On the Hill: Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer was on Capitol Hill Wednesday for meetings with lawmakers. Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) posted a photo of himself and Dermer holding up the Israeli and American flags to express solidarity with the Jewish state under attack.

 THAT TIME OF YEAR ― White House sends out Hanukkah party invites

The White House has begun to send out invitations to its annual Hanukkah party, slated this year for December 11th. The invite, obtained by Jewish Insider, has been extended to Jewish supporters and community leaders across the country.

Party ready: Last year’s celebrations drew more than 600 attendees, a crowd so large that the reception was split into two events — one in the afternoon and one in the evening. The receptions occasionally felt like rallies for the president, despite the presence of several Democratic officials. Last year’s appearances by Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) were an about-face from 2017, when the White House did not invite any Hill Democrats.

Flashback: JI’s Jacob Kornbluh spoke last year with former White House officials about the history of the annual Hanukkah receptions.

SCENE LAST NIGHT — Jewish Week, IPF and Magen David Adom Dinners

At Guastavino’s on Manhattan’s East Side, The Jewish Week honored outgoing editor Gary Rosenblatt, New York Times columnist Bret Stephens and attorney and Jewish Week Media Group board member Kai Falkenberg.

Stephens spoke about the current political environment: “I look around and I see a world both on the political left and the political right that is filled with unwise enthusiasm, that is filled with complete conviction, that has a disdain for everything that’s ambiguous and uncertain and unsure about the way we lead our lives — about the way we ought to lead our lives. It wants its certainties and it wants the neatly packaged and neat phrases and, preferably, killer 280-character tweets. It wants to make these sure and certain judgements about this person or that person, good or evil. And that is a world I think ought to disturb us.”

Spotted: Leon Wieseltier, Blu and Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, Rabbi JJ Schacter, Rabbi Avi Weiss, Wendy Zierler, Thea Wieseltier, Andy Silow-Carol, Daniel Rose, Peter Wang, Stuart Himmelfarb, Francine Klagsburn, Sandee Brawarsky, Eric Goldstein, Scott Shay, Edith Everett, Gail Propp, Amy and Bob Bressman, Susie and Jeff Stern.

Hope and change: Knesset Member Yair Golan (Democratic Union) keynoted the Israel Policy Forum’s annual dinner in Midtown Manhattan last night. Golan addressed the political deadlock in Israel — calling on Netanyahu to resign –  presented his vision for a two-state solution and highlighted the security challenges Israel faces. [Pic]

Spotted at IPF: Honorees Adena Philips, John Ruskay and Jeffrey Solomon; Charles Bronfman, Susie and Michael Gelman, David Halperin, Michael Koplow, Alisa and Dan Doctoroff, John Shapiro, Susie and Jeff Stern, Judy Stern Peck, Bob Sugarman, Seymour Reich, Bob Goodkind, Nancy Kaufman, Sheila Katz, Yona Shem Tov, Sally Gottesman, Jonathan Jacoby, Hailie Soifer, Matt Nosanchuk, Michael Snow, Naftuli Moster, Martin Irom, and Aaron Weinberg. 

At the Magen David Adom dinner held last night at The Pierre, chairman Mark Lebow announced that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has donated $5 million to the MDA’s Marcus National Blood Services Center in Ramla, Israel. The Washington Institute’s David Makovsky, co-author of the new book Be Strong and of Good Courage, was the keynote speaker. [Pic]

Spotted at MDA: David Fleisher, Danny Schwartzwalder, Patti Harris, Rob Rosenthal, Davidi Jonas, David Frankel, Steve Rabinowitz and Aaron Keyak.


🥗 Fresh Blood: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has been eating fish for dinner and buying salads on the trail to maintain a healthier lifestyle following his recent heart attack, The New York Timesreports — and it’s having an impact on the 78-year-old candidate. Sanders has “appeared livelier and more genial” at recent rallies and town hall events, the Times notes. [NYTimes]

🏃‍♀️ Profile: Can Beatie Deutsch, an ultra-Orthodox marathoner and mother of five from Jerusalem, run all the way to the Olympics? OZY spotlights the unlikely athlete, including her unusual running clothes, her race while seven months pregnant and her next goal: Tokyo 2020. [OZY]

🇮🇱🇨🇳 China Complication:
 Israel is caught in the middle of the trade war between China and the U.S., Bloomberg‘s Ivan Levingston reports. Earlier this week, media mogul Haim Saban gave up his ownership of Partner Communications Co., Israel’s second largest mobile operator. His shares will go back to the Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison Holdings. The problem? For Hutchison to take back Saban’s stake, they’ll need permission from Israel, which is facing pressure from Washington as the U.S. attempts to clamp down on Beijing’s growing global influence. [Bloomberg]


🗣️ The Fight Continues: Hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman ripped into Sen. Elizabeth Warren over her latest TV commercial blasting billionaires. The ad singles out Cooperman, former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and investor Peter Thiel, among others. 

🔍 In the Spotlight: Ukrainian billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky, who recently returned from Switzerland and Israel to serve as an informal advisor to President Volodymyr Zelensky, is seeking to improve relations with Russia. U.S. officials describe Kolomoisky’s influence as one of the biggest problems in Zelensky’s efforts to pursue closer ties with the West. 

📿 Vatican Solidarity: Pope Francis used his papal address yesterday to speak out against antisemitism, noting that the “Jewish people have suffered so much in history,” and that the persecution of Jews is “neither human or Christian.”   

🛣️ Road Work: Eduard Dolinsky, director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, blasted a decision by the Kyiv city council to name several streets after Nazi collaborators.

👩🏻‍⚖️ Refuah Sheleima: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg missed court yesterday due “to illness.” 

🍕 Treyf Taunt: A British police sergeant is facing a disciplinary hearing for dangling a slice of pepperoni pizza over the food of a kosher-keeping Jewish officer.  

🕎 Holiday Spirit: Hallmark is gearing up to release its first-ever Hanukkah-themed romantic films next month. 

⚾ Sports Blink: Gabe Kapler, who was fired as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies a month ago, has been hired by the San Francisco Giants.  

🍺 L’Chaim: Forbessat down with Jeremy Cowan, the man behind Schmaltz, a line of Jewish-themed beers including Pastrami Pilsner and Funky Jewbelation. 

🇯🇵🇲🇽 ✡️ First Bite: Top Chef alum Katsuji Tanabe will open his newest restaurant in Raleigh this Sunday. White Horse, his seventh restaurant, celebrates Tanabe’s upbringing as a Japanese-Mexican in a Jewish neighborhood in Mexico City.

🥪 Final Bite: The iconic Jewish deli Yitz’s in Toronto will be shutting its doors on December 1 after 47 years in business.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the senior leadership of AIPAC in Jerusalem on Wednesday. The prime minister’s office released a short video of his remarks during an update on the Gaza situation, in which he highlighted the militant groups’ “double war crime” by firing at civilians while hiding behind civilians.


Former U.S. Secretary of State, now at Stanford University and the Hoover Institution, Condoleezza Rice turns 65… Senior advisor to President Barack Obama throughout his eight-year term in the White House, Valerie Jarrett turns 63… Former deputy national security advisor for President Barack Obama, Ben Rhodes turns 42… 

Former president of the University of Chicago, Hugo F. Sonnenschein, Ph.D. turns 79… Cellist and professor at Moscow Conservatoire, Natalia Gutman turns 77… Former professional bodybuilder who played for two seasons with the New York Jets, Mike Katz turns 75… Los Angeles businessman and political activist, Stanley Treitel turns 75… Member of the UK’s House of Lords, Baron Jeremy Beecham turns 75… British Labour party member of Parliament since 1997, she resigned from the party last month to protest antisemitism, Dame Louise Joyce Ellman turns 74… Managing editor of Bloomberg‘s opinion section, Jonathan I. Landman turns 67… Democratic member of the New York State Assembly since 2001 from Brooklyn, Steven H. Cymbrowitz turns 66…

Cynthia Shaw turns 61… President of Middlebury College in Vermont since 2015, Laurie L. Patton turns 58… Partner at the Santa Monica-based law firm of Murphy Rosen, Edward A. Klein turns 56… Senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and professor of political science at The George Washington University, Sarah A. Binder turns 55… Vice chairman of The Atlantic and managing director of media at Emerson Collective, Peter T. Lattman turns 49… Head of public policy for the northeast U.S. at Airbnb, Joshua Meltzer turns 40 (h/t Playbook)… Senior advisor to the Chair at Albright Stonebridge Group, he was previously a speechwriter for Secretaries of Defense Robert Gates, Chuck Hagel and Leon Panetta, Jacob Freedman turns 37… Founder of White Light Strategies, Lana Talya Volftsun Fern turns 33…

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